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San Francisco archdiocese to be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

San Francisco, Calif., Mar 29, 2017 / 12:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In the centennial year of the Marian apparitions at Fatima, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco will consecrate his archdiocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

“I am confident that the archdiocese will receive many graces through the intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary if we are spiritually prepared and properly disposed,” Archbishop Cordileone said. “For this act of consecration to bear fruit, we must prepare ourselves spiritually and with catechesis for this significant day.”

Archbishop Cordileone said the consecration comes in response to “numerous requests from the faithful.”

The Oct. 7 consecration falls on the same day as the archdiocese’s Annual Rosary Rally, which takes place on the Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary.

It comes in the 100th year since the 1917 apparitions of the Virgin Mary to three young children in Fatima, Portugal. The apparitions took place from May 1917 to Oct. 13, 1917 when tens of thousands of people who had gathered near Fatima witnessed the sun dance.

The Virgin Mary apparition delivered a message to the children, asking for prayer and reparation for sins throughout the world.

The archdiocese website has a section dedicated to the upcoming consecration that includes Marian prayers and explanations of Our Lady of Fatima.

It describes the Immaculate Heart of Mary as a devotional name for the internal life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, including “her joys and sorrows, her virtues and hidden perfections, and, above all, her virginal love for God the Father, her maternal love for her son Jesus, and her compassionate love for all people.”

The archdiocese website lists several activities and suggested prayer intentions for each month leading up to the consecration. It is holding art contests and writing contests for students and has plans for a Marian retreat May 6.

 

How California Catholics hope to fix the teacher deficit

Sacramento, Calif., Mar 28, 2017 / 08:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The California Catholic Conference has announced that it is sponsoring a bill to help attract and retain teachers in response to the state's shortage of K-12 educators.

“Additional measures are needed in order to assure that our new teachers are given the appropriate preferential option that supports their development and commitment in their noble profession,” the conference said in a March 16 statement.

This “in turn translates to better service and better education of our youth.”

The conference, tied to the state's Catholic conference of bishops, is the official voice of the Church in California's legislative arena. It is proposing a bill which would give greater tax breaks to new teachers in the process of receiving their permanent credentials.  

Besides paying back student loans and serving at the lower end of the salary scale, new teachers must “enroll in costly induction and professional development programs aimed at converting their preliminary credential to a permanent or 'clear' credential.”

California has suffered from a lack of educators since the recession hit in 2007. The conference says easing a teacher’s financial difficulties would incite greater quality and quantity of new blood to the profession.

The state requires teachers to complete the “clear” credential within the first five years of being employed, but schools or districts are not required to pay for these programs. Local educational agencies have an average annual fee of $2,000, and universities or colleges may charge up to $5,000 yearly to complete the induction programs.

New teachers are forced to pay out-of-pocket, and the legislative groups says the financial strain ultimately affects their students.

The bill, AB 516, would either give teachers working towards a “clear” credential a tax credit or a deduction for professional expenses. Newly accredited teachers would have the option to either claim up to a $500 credit or deduct $2,500 from their state income taxes to balance the fees required for these programs.

Over 310,000 teachers were employed in California, but after the economic recession in 2007, it has dropped to less than 296,000 in the 2014-2015 school year. According to the Learning Policy Institute, a study in 2013 reveals that California's student-teacher ratio was 24 to 1 and is the highest ratio in the nation compared to the national average of 16 to 1.

The conference cited a study from the Learning Policy Institute that “the number of intern credentials, permits, and waivers it has issued” has nearly doubled between 2013 and 2016. These permits are issued to teachers who have not yet finished their permanent credential. The study also stated that the greatest growth occurred “in emergency-style permits known as Provisional Intern Permits (PIPs) and Short-Term Staff Permits (STSPs),” which are only issued when classrooms have an immediate need.

California not only needs an increase of teachers but a better system “to support, develop and retain qualified teachers,” the conference added.
 
“The most effective way to achieve this goal of offering a good education is to have qualified and prepared teachers in the educational work force committed to their profession.”

US Anglican ordinariate expands to include prominent Texas parish

Houston, Texas, Mar 28, 2017 / 03:54 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Holy See directed last week that the oldest Catholic parish of the Anglican Use, located in San Antonio, will be transferred from the local archdiocese into the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter.

“Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church and its school, the Atonement Academy, have been transferred to the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter, effective March 21,” read a statement. The ordinariate of St. Peter's chair is a special ecclesial jurisdiction for Catholics in the United States and Canada who were nurtured in the Anglican tradition or whose faith has been renewed by the Ordinariate.

“At the direction of the Holy See, all parishes of the Pastoral Provision are to be incorporated into the Ordinariate,” read the March 21 communique.

Our Lady of the Atonement parish had been founded in 1983 as part of the “pastoral provision” established by St. John Paul II to allow former Anglicans to form Catholic parishes within existing United States dioceses. Until last week, the parish was part of the Archdiocese of San Antonio.

Subsequently to the pastoral provision, Benedict XVI established ordinariates, which effectively provided former Anglicans with their own dioceses within the Catholic Church.

“With the establishment of the North American Ordinariate in 2012 and the ordination of its first bishop in 2016, the Holy See now expects all Pastoral Provision parishes in the U.S. to be integrated into the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter,” the ordinariate's statement explained.

“The Ordinariate expresses its deepest gratitude to the Archdiocese of San Antonio for welcoming and caring for Our Lady of the Atonement since its inception, and for the Archdiocese’s ongoing commitment to the Church’s care for the unity of Christians. Through continued collaboration in the coming months, the Archdiocese and the Ordinariate will remain dedicated to supporting the natural evolution of this Pastoral Provision parish into the Ordinariate.”

While the ordinariate's statement only includes Our Lady of the Atonement by name, the transferral would also presumably apply to the Congregation of Saint Athanasius, a pastoral provision parish located in a Boston suburb and heretofore part of the Archdiocese of Boston.

The Vatican's directive that Our Lady of the Atonement should be transferred to the ordinariate is the outcome of several months of conflict between the parish and the San Antonio archdiocese.

Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio had in January begun proceedings to remove Atonement's pastor, Fr. Christopher Phillips, who had been pastor from the parish's founding.

In a Jan. 19 letter the archbishop cited “pastoral concern” about Fr. Phillips relating “to expressions in the life of the parish that indicate an identity separate from, rather than simply unique, among the parishes of the archdiocese.” Another priest was appointed administrator of the parish, and Fr. Phillips was asked “to dedicate some time to reflect on certain specific concerns.”

Late in 2016, Fr. Phillips had sought to join the ordinariate.

According to the San Antonio Express-News, the ordinariate's spokesperson, Jenny Faber, indicated Fr. Phillips will remain at the parish as pastor emeritus, and a new pastor will be appointed in due time.

The Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter includes more than 40 parishes and communities. Its ordinary, Bishop Steven Lopes, was appointed in November 2015 and had previously served as an official at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The North American ordinariate is one of three such bodies; it has counterparts in the United Kingdom and Australia.

New HHS official has strong background in religious freedom, civil rights

Washington D.C., Mar 28, 2017 / 03:53 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A new high-ranking official at the Department of Health and Human Services could give the agency a significant shift in how it treats religious freedom and life issues.

“Roger Severino, a seasoned champion of religious liberty and the pro-life cause, is just the right person to correct the course of HHS’s efforts at enforcing anti-discrimination principles in federal law,” said Matthew Franck, director of the William E. and Carol G. Simon Center on Religion and the Constitution at the Witherspoon Institute.

Franck spoke to CNA following Severino’s appointment as director of the HHS Office for Civil Rights.

Severino, a Harvard Law graduate, comes to HHS from the Heritage Foundation, where, according to his bio, he worked on religious freedom, marriage, and life issues and directed the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society in the Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity.

He wrote about concerns over the Pentagon’s radical new gender policy, his disagreements with the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Hellerstedt abortion case, and religious freedom concerns in the Little Sisters of the Poor case at the Supreme Court, among other issues.

Severino brings with him a strong background in the field of civil rights law. Prior to his work at Heritage starting in 2015, he served as a trial attorney in the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights division for seven years.

There, Severino litigated cases including HIV discrimination, racism, and housing discrimination.

One of the cases he worked on was United States v. Birdie Wren, where a 26 year-old mother – who was HIV-positive – and her four year-old son were denied consideration for an apartment lease in Chicago because of the woman’s medical condition.

In another case he worked on, United States v. Stonebridge at Bear Creek LLP et al, an apartment complex and the management company had systematically screened out persons of perceived Middle Eastern or South Asian descent and segregated them into separate buildings from the rest of the tenants.

The Justice Department successfully sought fines and damage payments for violations of the Fair Housing Act.

Before his time at the Justice Department, Severino was chief operations officer at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

He will be needed at HHS because of the agency’s recent bias against pro-life groups, Franck argued:

“During the Obama administration, HHS became an aggressive discriminator against employers, insurers, and health care providers who only wanted to be left alone to act on their moral principles in favor of innocent human life, and on their religiously informed consciences against cooperation with evil.”

For example, when the state of California forced employers – including churches – to include abortion coverage in health plans, the HHS office for civil rights would not honor a challenge to that mandate from churches and religious freedom advocates.

Then-director Jocelyn Samuels said the mandate did not violate the Weldon Amendment, which bars federal funding of states and localities that discriminate against health providers who refuse to perform or assist abortions. Samuels said the entities bringing the challenge were not themselves health providers.

The U.S. bishops’ conference called the office’s decision “shocking.”

Franck predicted that Severino could help in such cases, and that his appointment “is very good news for the advancement of that office’s true mission.”

 

Supreme Court rejects Texas' standards for executing the intellectually disabled

Washington D.C., Mar 28, 2017 / 02:43 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In a death penalty case with national implications, the Supreme Court on Tuesday overturned a Texas court ruling that a man with possible intellectual disabilities was eligible for execution.

The Catholic Mobilizing Network hailed the Court’s ruling in Moore v. Texas as “the needed step towards justice for some of the most vulnerable in our society” and a “victory for life.”

“In affirming a person with intellectual disabilities should not be executed, the Court made it clear that states must uphold the needs of all of its citizens,” said Karen Clifton, executive director of the network. “CMN applauds the Court for calling attention to this grave injustice and demanding that we do better to provide justice for all involved in the legal system.”

In Moore v. Texas, a man Bobby James Moore had been convicted in 1980 – and again in 2001 on a retrial – of robbing a convenience store and killing an employee. He was given a death sentence.

A state habeas court, however, said that Moore met the clinical criteria for being intellectually disabled – which would exempt someone from execution under the Eighth Amendment, as the Supreme Court had ruled in Atkins v. Virginia in 2002.

With Moore, the habeas court used the standard “three-prong” test to determine intellectual disability, which is part of the clinical consensus on the matter, the Supreme Court found.

This test looked for “intellectual functioning deficits,” or an IQ score of around 70 adjusted for error, “adaptive functioning deficits,” and whether these deficits began to show when the person was still a minor.

A Texas criminal appeals court, however, disregarded five of Moore’s seven IQ scores that factored into the habeas court’s ruling, keeping only scores of 74 and 78 that Moore received in 1989 and 1973, respectively, and “discounted the lower end of the standard-error range associated with those scores,” as the Supreme Court’s opinion noted.

The appeals court ruled that according to an earlier medical standard of intellectual disability – which was in place before Moore was convicted in his 2001 re-trial – as well as according to the state’s “Briseno factors” test, Moore was eligible for the death penalty.

The Briseno factors test is a standard used by Texas in addition to the three-pronged standard for disability. The test includes questions like whether someone is able to lie, and if their neighbors thought they were disabled as a child. Critics have insisted that the factors are non-clinical.

Critics also note that the Briseno factors are not used to determine one’s eligibility for other state programs like social services. They have been used to deem others in Texas fit for the death penalty, including, in 2012, a man who scored a 61 on an IQ test.

Moore’s case was eventually appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. In a 5-3 decision on Tuesday, the Court overturned the criminal appeals court’s decision, saying the Briseno factors were outside of the clinical consensus means of evaluating one’s mental capacity and adding that the appeals court strayed from Supreme Court precedent in its decision.

Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, said that although the Supreme Court ruled in Atkins v. Virginia that executing an intellectually disabled person violated the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment, states could still determine one’s eligibility for the death penalty so long as their standards were within the clinical consensus.

Some states, however, thought this decision gave them broader discretion than was warranted to determine disability, he said. States like Texas and Florida used non-clinical standards, which led to later cases like Moore and Hall v. Florida where the Court found those standards unconstitutional.

“I think what the Court intended in Atkins, that discretion was not set up so that states could nullify Atkins by creating inappropriate hurdles for proving intellectual disability,” Dunham noted.

The majority opinion in Moore, authored by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who was joined by Justices Stephen Breyer, Anthony Kennedy, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan, “said the state’s discretion is not unfettered,” Dunham said.

“All the members of the Court agreed that the intellectual disability determination needs to be informed by the diagnostic framework.”

Texas’ Briseno standard for evaluating intellectual disability is “an invention of the CCA [Criminal Court of Appeals] untied to any acknowledged source,” the Court stated, saying the standards were an “outlier” as other states had not adopted them and Texas did not even use them for cases other than the death penalty.

“Not aligned with the medical community’s information, and drawing no strength from our precedent, the Briseno factors ‘creat[e] an unacceptable risk that persons with intellectual disability will be executed’,” the opinion stated.

“Mild levels of intellectual disability, although they may fall outside Texas citizens’ consensus, nevertheless remain intellectual disabilities,” they insisted.

The dissent, written by Chief Justice John Roberts and joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, admitted that the Briseno factors “are an unacceptable method of enforcing the guarantee of Atkins.”

However, Roberts added that he did not think the appeals court “erred as to Moore’s intellectual functioning.”

Furthermore, the Court majority set about determining what was the “medical consensus about intellectual disability” when that judgment should be left to “clinicians,” Roberts insisted.

Ultimately, the Court sent a strong message not only to Texas but to other states who craft their testing for intellectual disability outside of the clinical consensus, Dunham said.

“This case, Moore and Hall read together, sends a clear message. That is, if you follow the clinical definitions of intellectual disability, you aren’t going to have these kinds of problems. When you start substituting lay stereotypes and myths for the clinical criteria, you’re risking having your court judgments overturned.”

“This decision sheds light on one of the many broken aspects of the death penalty. Today’s Supreme Court ruling is another step towards justice for all life,” Clifton stated.

 

Visionaries' canonization would 'complete' the Fatima centenary

Fatima, Portugal, Mar 28, 2017 / 01:50 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Fatima's bishop has said the centenary of the locale's Marian apparition would not be complete without the announcement of the canonization of Blessed Francisco and Jacinta Marto, two of the children who witnessed the apparition.

“I would consider the centenary to be incomplete without the canonization. I have had this hope. We are in time for it to be May 13, but everything depends on the exclusive competency of the Pope,” Bishop Antonio dos Santos Marto of Leiria-Fatima said at a recent press conference.

The bishop also spoke about the news that Pope Francis approved March 23 the decree recognizing a second miracle attributed to the intercession of both siblings. This opens the way for their canonization.

Together with their cousin Lucia Santo, the brother and sister witnessed the 1917 apparitions of Mary.

Francisco and Jacinta died soon after, in 1919 and 1920, respectively. Lucia became a Carmelite nun, and died in 2005.

Bishop dos Santos Marto said he received with “enormous satisfaction the news of the approval of the miracle.”

He acknowledged that the announcement was not a surprise because “I had confident hope.” However, he said, “I must confess I was caught by surprise by the date; I didn't expect it to be so soon.”

“After this there's just one remaining decisive step, which belongs to the Holy Father: choosing the date and location of the canonization.”

He indicated that information will not be available until the April 20 consistory.

Also present at the press conference was the postulator for the cause of canonization of Francisco and Jacinta Marto, Sister Angela Coelho. The religious is also the vice-postulator of the cause for the beatification of Sister Lucia.

Sister Coehlo pointed out that “the little shepherds, who died at the age of 10, will be the youngest saints in the history of the Church, with the exception of child martyrs.”

She said the miracle attributed to the intercession of the blessed involves the cure of a child in Brazil. The healing began to be studied in 2013, but “more details on the case are not allowed to be revealed” because it concerns a child and the need to protect the child's identity.

Sister  Coelho also spoke about the speed with which the theological approval came about after the medical validation of the miracle. “The theological argumentation was already prepared previously and all the documentation for Rome was immediately sent,” she said.

The postulator clarified that no announcement is expected concerning the process of beatification for Sister Lucia. “That's a separate cause,” she explained.

Pope: 'to have faith is to live our lives with joy'

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Tuesday encouraged Christians to get on with things, living life with joy.

Speaking during the homily during Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, he urged them to avoid complaining and not to let themselves be paralyzed by the ugly sin of sloth.

Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni:

The Gospel story at the heart of Pope Francis’ reflection tells of a man who had been ill for thirty-eight years. He was lying at the side of a pool called Bethesda with a large number of ill, blind, lame and crippled who believed that when an angel came down and stirred up the waters the first to bathe in the pool would be healed. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been ill for a long time, he said to him: “Do you want to be well?”

“It’s what Jesus repeatedly says to us as well” the Pope said: “do you want to be well? Do you want to be happy? Do you want to improve your life? Do you want to be filled with the Holy Spirit?”

When Jesus, the Pope pointed out, asked that strange man if he wanted to be well, instead of saying “yes” he complained there was on one to put him in the pool while the water is stirred up and that someone else always got there  before him. His answer, Francis said, was a complaint, he was  implying that life had been unjust with him. 

“This man, the Pope noted,  was like the tree planted along the bank of the rivers, mentioned in the first Reading, but it had arid roots, roots that did not reach the water, could not take nourishment from the water”.

The Pope said this is clear from his attitude of always complaining and trying to blame the other. 

“This is an ugly sin: the sin of sloth” he said.

Pope Francis said this man’s disease was not so much his paralysis but sloth, which is worse than having a lukewarm heart.

It causes one to live without the desire to move forward, to do something in life, it causes one to lose the memory of joy, he explained, saying the man had lost all of this.

Jesus, the Pope continued, did not rebuke him but said: “Take up your mat, and walk”.

The man was healed but since it was a Sabbath, the doctors of the law said it was not lawful to carry a mat on that day and they asked him who was the man who told him to do so.

The sick man, the Pope noted, had not even thanked Jesus or asked for his name: “he rose and walked with that slothful attitude “living his life because oxygen is free”, always looking to others “who are happier” and forgetting joy.

"Sloth, he said, is a sin that paralyzes us, stops us from walking”.

Even today, the Pope said, the Lord looks to each of us sinners - we are all sinners - and says “Rise”.

The Lord tells each of us, Pope Francis concluded, to take hold of our life, be it beautiful or difficult and move on: “Do not be afraid, go ahead carrying your mat” and remember to come to the waters and quench your thirst with joy and ask the Lord to help you get up and know the joy of salvation. 

(from Vatican Radio)

Arizona strengthens conscience protections for health care workers

Phoenix, Ariz., Mar 28, 2017 / 12:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Health care providers and institutions opposed to assisted suicide gained more legal protections under a new Arizona law that aims to help ensure doctors and nurses aren’t fired for their beliefs if the practice is ever legalized.

Senate Bill 1439 was “an important rights of conscience bill,” according to the bishops of the Arizona Catholic Conference.

“S.B. 1439 will help protect health care providers not wanting to participate in services causing the death of their patients,” the state’s four bishops said March 24, adding they were grateful that it has become law.

The bill lists assisted suicide, euthanasia, or “mercy killing” as some activities that a doctor, nurse or health care entity may decline to participate in.

Bill sponsor Sen. Nancy Barto said the bill would help ensure that individuals would not lose their jobs if they have objections to these practices.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed the legislation on Friday.

The Arizona bishops’ conference said federal law already protects health care providers who decline to participate in assisted suicide or similar actions, but the bill adds state-level protections and clarifies that providers cannot face discrimination in employment.

The bill bars discrimination against state health care providers and facilities if they refuse to assist in services that result in a person’s death or if they refuse to provide items that result in a person’s death.

Assisted suicide is illegal in Arizona, though the conscience protection bill comes at a time when several other states have legalized the practice.

Pope sends message to UN conference on nuclear weapons

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a message to the “United Nations Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, Leading Towards their Total Elimination,” the first part of which is taking place in New York from 27-31 March. The message was read by Msgr Antoine Camilleri, Under-Secretary for Relations with States, and Head of the Delegation of the Holy See to the meeting.

Below, please find the full text of Pope Francis’ Message:

 

To Her Excellency Elayne Whyte Gómez
President of the
United Nations Conference
to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument
to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons,
Leading Towards their Total Elimination

I extend cordial greetings to you, Madam President, and to all the representatives of the various nations and international organizations, and of civil society participating in this Conference.  I wish to encourage you to work with determination in order to promote the conditions necessary for a world without nuclear weapons.

On 25 September 2015, before the General Assembly of the United Nations, I emphasized what the Preamble and first Article of the United Nations Charter indicate as the foundations of the international juridical framework: peace, the pacific solution of disputes and the development of friendly relations between nations.  An ethics and a law based on the threat of mutual destruction – and possibly the destruction of all mankind – are contradictory to the very spirit of the United Nations.  We must therefore commit ourselves to a world without nuclear weapons, by fully implementing the Non-Proliferation Treaty, both in letter and spirit (cf. Address to the General Assembly of the United Nations, 25 September 2015).

But why give ourselves this demanding and forward-looking goal in the present international context characterized by an unstable climate of conflict, which is both cause and indication of the difficulties encountered in advancing and strengthening the process of nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation? 

If we take into consideration the principal threats to peace and security with their many dimensions in this multipolar world of the twenty-first century as, for example, terrorism, asymmetrical conflicts, cybersecurity, environmental problems, poverty, not a few doubts arise regarding the inadequacy of nuclear deterrence as an effective response to such challenges.  These concerns are even greater when we consider the catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences that would follow from any use of nuclear weapons, with devastating, indiscriminate and uncontainable effects, over time and space.  Similar cause for concern arises when examining the waste of resources spent on nuclear issues for military purposes, which could instead be used for worthy priorities like the promotion of peace and integral human development, as well as the fight against poverty, and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

We need also to ask ourselves how sustainable is a stability based on fear, when it actually increases fear and undermines relationships of trust between peoples.           

International peace and stability cannot be based on a false sense of security, on the threat of mutual destruction or total annihilation, or on simply maintaining a balance of power.  Peace must be built on justice, on integral human development, on respect for fundamental human rights, on the protection of creation, on the participation of all in public life, on trust between peoples, on the support of peaceful institutions, on access to education and health, on dialogue and solidarity.  From this perspective, we need to go beyond nuclear deterrence: the international community is called upon to adopt forward-looking strategies to promote the goal of peace and stability and to avoid short-sighted approaches to the problems surrounding national and international security.

In this context, the ultimate goal of the total elimination of nuclear weapons becomes both a challenge and a moral and humanitarian imperative.  A concrete approach should promote a reflection on an ethics of peace and multilateral and cooperative security that goes beyond the fear and isolationism that prevail in many debates today.  Achieving a world without nuclear weapons involves a long-term process, based on the awareness that “everything is connected” within the perspective of an integral ecology (cf. Laudato Si’, 117, 138).  The common destiny of mankind demands the pragmatic strengthening of dialogue and the building and consolidating of mechanisms of trust and cooperation, capable of creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons.

Growing interdependence and globalization mean that any response to the threat of nuclear weapons should be collective and concerted, based on mutual trust.  This trust can be built only through dialogue that is truly directed to the common good and not to the protection of veiled or particular interests; such dialogue, as far as possible, should include all: nuclear states, countries which do not possess nuclear weapons, the military and private sectors, religious communities, civil societies, and international organizations.  And in this endeavour we must avoid those forms of mutual recrimination and polarization which hinder dialogue rather than encourage it.  Humanity has the ability to work together in building up our common home; we have the freedom, intelligence and capacity to lead and direct technology, to place limits on our power, and to put all this at the service of another type of progress: one that is more human, social and integral (cf. ibid., 13, 78, 112; Message for the 22nd Meeting of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Agreement on Climate Change (COP22), 10 November 2016).

This Conference intends to negotiate a Treaty inspired by ethical and moral arguments.  It is an exercise in hope and it is my wish that it may also constitute a decisive step along the road towards a world without nuclear weapons.  Although this is a significantly complex and long-term goal, it is not beyond our reach.

Madam President, I sincerely wish that the efforts of this Conference may be fruitful and provide an effective contribution to advancing an ethic of peace and of multilateral and cooperative security, which humanity very much needs today.  Upon all those gathered at this important meeting, and upon the citizens of the countries you represent, I invoke the blessings of the Almighty.

                                                                                                            FRANCIS

From the Vatican, 23 March 2017

 

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis' activities for Holy Week and Easter

(Vatican Radio) The Vatican on Tuesday released details of the celebrations that Pope Francis will preside over for Holy Week and Easter.

A note from the liturgical office said that on Palm Sunday, April 9th, the Pope will lead a procession for the blessing of the olive and palm branches in St Peter’s Square, starting at 10am, and then celebrate the Mass of Our Lord’s Passion. Palm Sunday also marks the XXXII World Youth Day with the theme taken from St Luke’s Gospel ‘The Mighty One has done great things for me’ 

On Thursday April 13th Pope Francis will preside at the Chrism Mass with the blessing of the holy oils in St Peter’s Basilica, starting at 9.30am.

On Good Friday, April 14th, the Pope will lead the celebration of Our Lord’s Passion in St Peter’s Basilica, beginning at 5pm. That will be followed at 9.15pm by the traditional Via Crucis, or Way of the Cross, at the Colosseum, after which the Pope will greet the crowds and impart his Apostolic Blessing.

On Saturday April 15th the Holy Father will celebrate the Easter Vigil in St Peter’s Basilica beginning at 8.30pm with the blessing of the new fire and a procession with the Pasqual candle. During the celebration he will administer the Sacrament of Baptism before concelebrating Mass with the other cardinals and bishops.

Finally on Easter morning, Sunday April 16th, beginning at 10am, Pope Francis will preside at the Mass of Our Lord’s Resurrection in St Peter’s Square before giving his ‘Urbi et Orbi’ blessing (to the city of Rome and to the world) from the central balcony of St Peter’s Basilica.

(from Vatican Radio)